NANNA’S frozen mixed berries have now been linked to five cases of hepatitis A – two in NSW and three in Victoria.

A second person in NSW was diagnosed with hepatitis A after eating Nanna’s frozen mixed berries on the weekend.

This comes one day after the Victorian Health Department issued a massive recall for one-kilogram packets of the frozen fruit.

The recall has also been extended to Creative Gourmet mixed berries, which were packaged in the same plant as the Nanna’s berries. Creative Gourmet 300g packets with best-before dates up to and including December 10, 2017, and 500g packets with best-before dates up to October 6, 2017, should not be consumed.

The berries came from China and Chile and were distributed by Patties Foods, which is based in Bairnsdale, east Victoria.

The frozen mixed berries are sold mainly in Woolworths, Coles and IGA supermarkets.

President of the National Farmers’ Federation, Brent Finlay, said the incident reinforced the need for strong biosecurity measures to ensure food safety.

“It also demonstrates that buying Australian is the smart thing to do,” Mr Finlay said.

“Australian farmers are rightly proud of the high quality and safety of the food they produce.

“Our food is the safest in the world, because our production systems have checks and balances.”

Director of NSW Health’s Communicable Diseases Branch, Vicky Sheppeard said an investigation by all health agencies was under way, but authorities were not yet sure how many people may be affected.

“Given that Nanna’s mixed berries is a widely distributed product, there is the potential that others may be sick with hepatitis A now, or develop the disease over the coming weeks,” she said.

It can take between 15 and 50 days for hepatitis A symptoms to show. Symptoms include diarrhoea, fatigue, fever, nausea, loss of appetite, abdominal pain and vomiting.

Health Departments around the country are urging people to be on the lookout for symptoms.

Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver that can spread through contact with food, drinks or objects with traces of faeces containing the virus. It is common in developing countries where hygiene is poor.

“It is important that if people have the symptoms of hepatitis they see their doctor for testing, especially if they have eaten this product in the last two months,” Dr Sheppeard said.

“They should also take steps to not spread the infection by careful handwashing and not handling food or providing personal care to others until they receive advice from their doctor.”

Patties Foods has announced it is undertaking a nationwide recall of the mixed berries with a best-before date up to and including November 11, 2016.

The company has advised consumers not to eat the product and return packs to the place of purchase for a full cash refund.

“A detailed testing process has commenced in conjunction with health authorities,” a statement from the company read.

“Patties Foods advises the voluntary recall is in the interests of consumer safety and that the health and wellbeing of consumers is paramount.”

Furious customers have complained about the lack of information available to them about what they should do if they have bought the product and where to submit claims for medical tests or seek refunds.

One customer contacting Fairfax Media said he tried to call Patties Foods all morning on Saturday but there was no answer.

“This beggars belief. A major health scare and Patties has gone home! If no one else us available, the CEO should man the phones,” he said.

“While Patties may be spreading the word through the press, this does not abrogate their responsibilities, including at law, to take all reasonable steps themselves to inform and assist affected customers.”

Concerned consumers can call the Patties Foods hotline on 1800 650 069.

– with FarmOnline

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